"Sex with a drunk woman" was the topic of discussion of The Daily Question, an Instagram account run by a Lebanese master's student known as Abohashem Al Moussawi. In a series of stories posted on the account, Lebanese American University (LAU) students' views on consent and rape were brought to light ... and it seems many have been living in the dark in that arena.
Toxic forms of masculinities, lack of sex education in Lebanon, and the treatment of sex as a taboo subject have all led to some kind of misinformation regarding consent and what constitutes rape.
"I don't feel like it's rape if a man had sex with a drunk woman," one male student said as if rape is a topic that relies on sentiments and feelings. Rape is rape; there's no grey area, but people tend to forget that.
"It's a 50-50 situation," another man said. When asked to explain further, he attempted to justify his answer by saying that it's only rape in the sense that "the guy took advantage of the woman's drunken state," but then went on to say that "deep down the woman wants sex" but that she can't engage in it when she's sober due to societal pressures.
The entire problem is this propagation of the "but the woman wants it" narrative. How can one know a woman wants it if she's drunk, aka mentally incapacitated? To generalize and say that a woman can't engage in sex when she's fully aware (to justify having sex with her when she's drunk) is false at best, entitled at worst.
When someone gets drunk, they can barely remember anything the next day. And you want me to believe that they were able to give full consent? It's just not possible, meaning consent wasn't given, therefore it's sexual assault. Simple as that.
This false belief that someone who is drunk can give consent is part of the problem. One student was so confident with her statement that she repeated it multiple times. "Yes she's drunk but she consented to it," but since when is someone who is drunk able to give consent? It just doesn't happen.
Luckily, there were a few students who truly understand the importance of consent.
"Drunk and consent can't really be put in the same sentence together," another female student said. "If it's not a concrete yes, then it's a no."
"The woman gives a vibe if she's like that or not"
The student in the above video neither gets the concept of consent nor does she understand that exploring one's sexuality is a personal freedom and choice. Saying things like "you can tell if she's like that" is perpetuating the idea that engaging in sexual acts is not something natural, that it's reserved for the selected "promiscuous" few.
"If she said yes, and she looks like she has honor, then, of course, he raped her," the student said. Since when does honor have anything to do with rape? If a woman looks like she has no honor, then rape is justified? I don't get it.
"No of course it's not rape," another student said
In the Instagram stories, it was so obvious that many misconceptions regarding consent exist and persist. For example, one of the students said that he wouldn't call it "rape" if he and the woman had sex in the past.
This is based on the false idea that agreeing to sex one time means eternal consent. There is no such thing as everlasting consent; it constantly needs to be taken into consideration. Whether it's a one-night stand, whether the two are in a relationship, and even if the two are married, consent should never be taken for granted.
Not all the students were clueless about the concept of consent when under the influence.
"If she's drunk, you leave her alone, ordered her an Uber, and send her home," one student said.
"This question shouldn't even be asked in the first place because you're kind of giving the rapist the chance to justify himself," another male student said.
"If you are in a situation where you can't even hand over the car keys to the person, how can you expect that person to make a decision such as this one?" he continued.
The concept of consent is still lagging behind in Lebanon, the Arab world, and in many countries around the world. Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who raped a female student on campus in 2015, became the literal definition of rape after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a fraternity house during a party. Yet, some university students in Lebanon refuse to acknowledge such a scenario as rape.
Turner's story grabbed international attention and allowed for conversations regarding consent to be highlighted. Still, the foundation of "consent" is still widely misinterpreted by college students and working professionals alike. In the Arab world, the topic is rarely ever talked about. Thus, many women find themselves in situations where they cannot speak about their encounters with violence due to the shame and stigma surrounding premarital sex. And when it comes to married women, some fall victim to marital rape, a crime many countries don't acknowledge as such. Sudan's #JusticeForNoura rings a bell?
It's time such issues be addressed at schools, universities, and through the implementation of laws that criminalize such violent behavior. Then, maybe, just maybe, people will understand what rape actually is.